Five Things I Learned About Moving a Big Office

by Nadine Morris Nancy Quattrocchi, Vice-President | 01 Nov, 2017 | 01 Nov, 2017
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In late June, CFHI moved to a new office space. After 14 years in Ottawa’s west end, we have now set up shop downtown, at 150 Kent Street.

In addition to moving, we completely redesigned 17,469 square feet of office space to meet the current and future needs of our organization. So not only did we have to manage moving vans and storage boxes: we also needed to act as building contractors for electrical, millwork, plumbing, drywalling, flooring, lighting – the list goes on!

But it was all worth it. It’s a great space: a modern open concept with lots of natural light, ergonomically-friendly office furniture with height-adjustable desks, cozy collaboration areas for brainstorming, fully-wired meeting areas, and a Starbucks-café style kitchen that includes an espresso/cappuccino/latté machine.

As the project manager for the move, I’m happy to report that our 59 staff members are settling in well to the new environment. The move itself went remarkably well – but not without its challenges. While everything appeared tranquil on the surface, there was lots of furious paddling going on underneath. It was a huge project and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful. However, when they say, “It takes a village,” it really does. This office move was no different and was an excellent example of bringing many individuals together to achieve success.

I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned.

  1. 1. Plan. Plan. And plan again. Even the best-laid plans can come completely undone in the blink of an eye. Just when you think that every Excel spread sheet is finalized, there are always – repeat, ALWAYS! – curve balls that get thrown at you. Having one tradesperson unavailable, for example, creates a domino effect that can cause weeks of delay. Prepare to be flexible.
  2. 2. Surround yourself with good people. They say that people’s true colours show most during times of stress. That was certainly my experience. Sometimes you just need a shoulder to lean – and, yes, cry – on. I found strength in friends and co-workers, who went from being “dearest confidante” to “bona fide therapist.” And I also discovered new sources of strength in the team of people assembled to support the move. Reach out. Involve others. You’ll be surprised at what people can do when they’re asked.
  3. 3. Involve staff from the beginning and keep them in the loop. Change is hard, and people react differently to it. Some of our staff were excited about moving to the new space, while others were not thrilled with the idea. Keep in mind that change – even one that may be welcome and needed – is an emotional process, and respect people’s need for timely information. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep the lines of communication open, at all stages of the process. What worked for us?
    • We invited staff to join the Office Space Team to help select and evaluate the various properties, and to discuss transportation and other issues.
    • We conducted an all-staff survey asking people what they would like to see in the new office space, and we incorporated these suggestions wherever we could.
    • Each week, at Monday’s huddle, I provided an update to staff on where we were in the selection process and which properties were making it to the short list. We sent weekly email updates, too. We even reported when there was nothing to report!
    • Once a decision was recommended and approved by our Board of Directors, we held a kick-off meeting where I made a full presentation to all staff and invited people to ask questions.
    • My office door was always open to anyone who wanted to talk.
  4. 4. Do all you can to maintain (a) perspective; and (b) your sense of humour. This is sometimes hard to do when there are so many balls up in the air. Remember all those clichés and hold them close: the world won’t end if you miss a deadline; Rome wasn’t built in a day; and there is a silver lining in every cloud. Take the time to laugh!
  5. 5. Celebrate your success. On the first day in our new office, we held a mimosa-themed celebratory breakfast for all staff, to welcome everyone to their new ‘home’ and to recognize the hard work and dedication of the people on the team. I bought gifts for my nearest-and-dearest and made sure that everyone was acknowledged publicly. It’s important for staff to see that the successful outcome was a product of everyone’s energy and input.

The bottom line? We survived! And we’re proud of our new office space: it’s bright, comfortable, modern, and reflects CFHI’s personality. We made change happen … together … in our new office space.

I welcome you to come by and visit our offices if you are ever in the area. I would love to meet with you to discuss our office move and give you a tour.

How about you? Have you experienced something similar, and do you have any suggestions to add?

Nancy M. Quattrocchi

Vice-President, Corporate Services, CFHI

Starbucks-café style kitchen

Starbucks-café style kitchen includes an espresso/cappuccino/latté machine.

One of our cozy collaboration areas.

One of our cozy collaboration areas.

CFHI reception area.

CFHI reception area.

Innovation Room

Our Innovation Room features comfortable seating, natural light and a large screen monitor.


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